Lin-Manuel Miranda and Meryl Streep are both currently hard at work shooting Mary Poppins Returns, which means that they perfected their cockney accents for the film quite a while ago. It turns out that before they actually started filming, though, the two celebrated actors had a discussion about cockney accents, which provoked Streep to reveal her favorite British accent to do.
Lin-Manuel Miranda made this admission regarding his discussion with Meryl Streep when he recently sat down to talk to the New York Times. As you’d expect the topic of discussion soon turned to his work on Mary Poppins Returns, during which he was quizzed about the sort of cockney accent that he will use in the hugely anticipated musical, while he also divulged some of the inspirations that have helped to form his voice in the film.
“I would describe the accent as just shy of Cockney east. More Anthony Newley than Stanley Holloway. That’s a very musical-theater reference. I’m watching British stand-up comedy — East End guys — and I’m also listening to a lot of music, like Billy Bragg. The East End accent now is very different from in the ’30s. You’ll see that mistake on both sides a lot. I’ve seen British productions of American shows and it’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s a New York accent, but I’m not sure what decade.'”
It was at this point that Lin-Manuel Miranda explained that he had sat down with Meryl Streep to ask about her favorite British accent to adopt. And it turns out that the British voice that Streep had the most fun adopting was the one she used for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady.
“I asked Meryl Streep, who’s in the film, what her favorite British accent is. She said Thatcher. Thatcher was a self-created persona. [Thatcher] took elocution lessons, and made up her own accent.”
It’s not really much of a surprise that Meryl Streep’s favorite British accent was the one she deployed for Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. That’s because Meryl Streep ended up winning the Best Actress Academy Award for her portrayal as the former British Prime Minister.
Lin-Manuel Miranda also made sure to point out that during his discussion with Meryl Streep on this topic he was completely humble, and is the first to admit that his British accent will probably be nowhere near as good as hers. He then threw in some extra plaudits regarding working with the 20-time Academy Award nominee for good measure, too.
“I did it with full humility, knowing my best accent wouldn’t touch her work. It’s very surreal to work with her. She’s a joy, a delight.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s discussion with Meryl Streep provided more answers than Simon Helberg’s conversation with the acting luminary during the filming for Florence Foster Jenkins. Helberg recalled to ABC News that he asked Streep for advice on how to laugh in a scene, and she couldn’t really help him out as she just has the innate skill to do so.
“There’s a scene… where the whole scene is just me laughing in this elevator. And I was terrified. It was the dark cloud hanging over me because it’s a really hard thing to do as an actor. I feel like it’s harder than crying to just stand there and laugh hysterically and go into a fit. Her answer was always really frustrating. Because it was like, ‘Oh, I just believed it. I just was laughing.’ Then I was sort of like, ‘But how do you? But how?’… Eventually she said, ‘Try to cry’. That always makes me laugh.”
[Featured Image by Getty/Theo Wargo]